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‘Provider Image’, validity and the performance of success

‘Provider Image’, validity and the performance of success

. 5 min read

If you go on sex work social media, whores (etc) are always having an awesome time. They’re always busy! Everyone’s in the top whatever percent on Onlyfans (look I don’t know I’m too fucking old). Fat stacks and findoms, fucking designer lingerie, fresh nails, and sweet, full asslifts. Fuck yeah!

I’m a self-deprecating bitch *thanks trauma* with a bleak sense of humour that no one finds funny *thanks neurodivergence* so I always joke that I’m an occasional sex worker, because I’m just not very good at it. Let’s just say I’m low-volume, and not always because I want to be.

I am good at it, though, and have my own personal repertoire of whoreskills. We all do!

(My SW superpowers:

  • super great at putting people at ease
  • fucking intense eye contact game: sometimes sex beams out of my eyes like lazerrrs
  • pretty good single tail aim, *whip crack noise*
  • can go from undulating across you like a bolt of silk unravelling to cracking a Simpsons joke you might not get but that I find hilarious to shoving my titty in your mouth while ordering you to shut up, and cackling as the volume of it folds over your nose as well and your eyes bulge with a fear that spikes something hot and raw in me, all without skipping a beat. (Not everyone’s cup of tea but for the right client, perfecto.)

What I am not great at is making lots of money. But we don’t talk about that much. We’ve gotta keep up the performance that sex workers are raking in the cash. This performance of success pervades $₩ social media space the same way it’s inherent in the civvie s.m world.

Maybe it’s because of the way that sometimes money breeds money, or that busy-ness breeds being busy. We’ve all had times when the money won’t come even though we need it, and when it does come even though we’re already flush.

And maybe it’s because we don’t want to seem...


Talking with sex worker and comedian Bella Green, she said, ‘Like, it's this ~empowered~ thing you can do on Instagram now. And celebs like Bella Thorne getting an Only Fans. Social media has normalised it but like, only if you're getting those fat stacks. Otherwise you're just icky and poor, right?’

We’ve come a few teeny steps forward on the stigma-front (to all the SW activists, thank you friends you’re so brave and so excellent, I wish I was brave too but I’m so fucking tired) but it feels like the only SWers that some of society is willing to accept are a niche bunch: ritch bitches. (If you ARE a rich bitch, hello! That is fucking awesome! I wish I was sometimes, but I’m so fucking tired.)


I think it’s important to say to every babe out there who’s really struggling, who’s wondering what the fuck is wrong? Who is thinking, ‘I am here and ready to work so why can’t I just fucking WORK?’, and I know you’re there ‘cause I’ve been there so many times and statistically I cannot be the only one.

To that person:

I see you. It is not you. You are fucking great. You are exactly enough.

What you earn doesn’t dictate your worth, and it doesn’t mean you’re a failure and just ‘cause you’re not throwing handfuls of cash in the air and watching it rain down all around, it doesn’t mean JACK SHIT.

Because we don’t say this. We don’t say that your validity, as a sex worker and as an actual human person, does not depend on your economic success. That sex work is work but your work does not define you. There are just so many more sex workers who fill this liminal space than we talk about (I have an arts degree, so I have to use the words ‘liminal space’ in at least 1 of every 3 of the articles I write, I think it’s a law.) There are so many babes who do SW because they can make okay money and not work often. Maybe they are otherwise underemployed or have chronic illness or are carers or have kids or get bored easily or one million other reasons or no reason at all. All of this is valid.

Some of us are fine with enough money for the shit we have to pay and to have time to rest and be a parent or friend or a carer or a family member or even just a person or even nothing at all. Some of us are shrewd businesspeople who turn their small business into a big one, some of us shoot every last dollar we earn into our arms, some of us love to work hard, and others just wanna take it easy.

Like ritch bitches rolling in hundreds. Like hooker mums tryna make rent, and hustler students carting books and lube in their backpacks. Like babes with addictions who gotta earn to score. Like fully sick pay-friends or some worker babe an hour before the end of shift, wishing for another booking, just one more. Like the ‘lazy’ and the can’t-be-fucked. The ones who, if they have to play the capitalism game, will play it on their terms. All of them, and all the other kinds, as many as there are workers themselves.

Whyever and however you work, however much you earn: you’re valid.

Aside from the validity of high and mid and low earners and choosing what you want and need from sex work, I really, very much think we need to start the conversation about how it’s getting fucking hard to make money in this industry. The performance of success doesn’t just invalidate all the varied motivations towards, and goals for, sex work and money, it harms us all as some of us struggle to make our living and try try try to keep up that performance.

Who is it for? For clients? For other sex workers? For ourselves? I honestly don’t know.

Never, ever forget sex work is as racist as the real world. Clients and clubs and management and owners are as fatphobic as civilian spaces are. As ALL spaces are. Plus, there are so many of us and a pool of clients expanding at a less hectic rate. The market is saturated and we ALL know it, we’re all scrambling for the finite number of paying clients and it’s cutthroat, so fucking cutthroat. Our income is rattled by so many, many invisible factors, from the economic to the political to the personal, and more and more.

WE GOTTA support each other in this ‘cause if we won’t lift up our peers then who will? I don’t want to hear one more thing about ‘poor energy’, or how it’s easy to make big money. It can be! But if you’re BIPOC, disabled, or chronically ill, mentally ill, fat, weird, neurodivergent, aging, or the ten million things that can and do effect income, it is not always easy.

This work has never been easy money for everyone. The more we do not talk about it and continue the charade of success, the further away we get from each other. Sex Work can be so set up to divide us from each other. These things, these barriers between us, thread deep deep underground like mushroom mycelium, visible fruiting bodies revealing only a glimpse of the whole. These things stack up like walls and loom over us, that grab us round the ankles to drag us down so softly that we barely know they’re there.

What is elite? What is high-volume? What is expensive and what is cheap?

Who knows and who fucking cares?

Keep up your performance of success if it works for you. But if it doesn’t, or if it is too much to hold the mask up any more…

Always remember you don’t have to play that game. You do you and do what you need to do. There are so many of us who have your back.

And never forget you’re 100% rad.